Digital health solutions are expected to save the U.S. healthcare system more than $100 billion over the next four years, according to new research from Accenture.
Helping to drive savings, the firm projects that Food and Drug Administration approvals of digital health solutionsInternet-connected devices or software created to detect or treat a medical indicationwill triple from 33 in 2014 to 100 by the end of 2018.
Accenture cites several factors, such as health IT mandates, payment reform and regulatory changes, that will cause acceleration in the growth of FDA-approved products:
*Increased use of health IT among physicians and patients, driven by federal Meaningful Use mandates, will continue enabling devices and solutions to integrate with patient portals and digital health records.
*Growing demand for patients to self-manage care: Accenture estimates the number of U.S. consumers who own a wearable fitness device will double in the next five years, from 22 percent this year to 43 percent by 2020.
*Recently released regulatory guidelines for low-risk health products, establishing a line between when a wellness toolsuch as a heart rate monitorbecomes a medical device, will enable more clarity on the process, expedite regulatory pathways and is expected to drive 30 percent annual growth of these solutions through 2018.
*A shift to value-based reimbursement is creating fertile ground for clinical and business strategies that incorporate digital health devices. Accenture estimates digital health funding will reach $6.5 billion by 2018.
A digital disruption is playing out in healthcare, as witnessed by the emergence of new business models and technology that will change the nature of patient interactions, alter consumer expectations and ultimately improve health outcomes, said Rick Ratliff, Accentures managing director of digital health solutions.
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